Tart Of Darkness - The Bruery

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Tart Of DarknessTart Of Darkness

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330 Reviews
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Reviews: 330
Hads: 2,216
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 4.37%
Wants: 284
Gots: 742 | FT: 81
Brewed by:
The Bruery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Wild Ale |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ajcobb24 on 06-22-2011

Batch 2 was aged in spent Black Tuesday barrels.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 330 | Hads: 2,216
Photo of LambicPentameter
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed out of a brown 750 mL bottle with a date etched into the side of the glass--unfortunately the day is illegible, but I can tell that it was bottled in May 2013. Poured into a Boulevard Smokestack tulip glass.

Appearance - Well, it has the look of a stout, with a body that is black with just a subtle twinge of walnut brown preventing it from being jet black. No light passes through--at least none that is bright enough to overcome the reflective nature of the glass. Atop the body sits a one-and-a-half finger tan head from an aggressive pour, so the bubbles are big and soapy looking. Retention is moderate, leaving sparse bits of sticky lacing on the glass and a thin film of suds on the surface of the liquid after the head fades away

Smell - I expected a clash of sour and roast characteristics, but the acidic nature of this beer is by far the primary characteristic. The roasted profiles are a very distant complement to the overall acidity, which encompasses some aggressive lactic tartness as well as impressions of sour cherries and really sour Granny Smith. There is a subtle note of roasted malt, but it is difficult to pick out amongst the more sour characteristics.

Taste - Mouth-puckering sour cherry and less dominant hints of apple cider vinegar, with fruity notes reminiscent of black currant and raspberry jam. Here, the roasted component is a little more detectible, but it's still an afterthought--this is firmly a sour beer, with very little remaining of the base beer. Really, the darker malts work to impart a sweetness, that after several drinks, starts to remind me a bit of a Flanders Oud Bruin, with the malty sweetness providing a counterpoint to the aggressive tartness.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-light bodied and moderate carbonation, with significant sour twinges in the backs of your cheeks, and a drying finish.

Overall, a delicious beer if you like styles that don't hide their sour characteristics. I wouldn't come into this one expecting much from the stout side of the equation--really, the stout provides more in the way of color and appearance than it does with the aroma and flavor. Not sure I'd go out of my way to get this again, given the fact that The Bruery doesn't distribute to my area, but it is a tasty beer to be sure. (2,279 characters)

Photo of itsscience
4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Some orange goop had collected around the rim of the bottle while it was conditioning and I got it on my fingers when I opened the bottle. The beer is dark brown in appearance with a fizzy head that disappears immediately. Plenty of carbonation bubbles are left sticking to the side of the glass. The smell is vinegary with hints of grape and cherry. After a bit of a sweet fruit taste at the front of the tongue, the taste explodes with potent sourness. It finishes with a bready yeast taste to balance it out. Mouthfeel is medium to watery. (542 characters)

Photo of Fcolle2
4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours earthy brown somewhat clear in color with a thin light tan head that dissipates quickly.

Smell has lots of tart brett notes with primarily a vinager like acidity.

Taste follows the nose with a toffee slight malty sweetness that disappears quickly into a very potent tart vinager sour flavor and mild candy like sweet ness on the backend which is reminiscent of sweet tarts.

Mouthfeel is good, big sticky sour feel that is cut with moderate carbonation. (462 characters)

Photo of pepe_silvia
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is perfection. Complex, strong from start to finish, biting acidity with huge, beautiful, full flavor to back it up. I would seriously trade one of my cousins for a bottle of this but we don't see each other very often so it's fine. Definitely not for the meek. (271 characters)

Photo of laituegonflable
3.79/5  rDev -8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish dark brown. Head is pale beige, thin rim of lace really. Doesn't really cling. Looks a bit lacklustre.

Smells a bit on the funky tart side. Some mild chocolate malt notes, but large amounts of balsamic, some vinous character and a touch of port. Bit subdued, but what's there is nice.

Taste is interesting. I accidentally gulped down my first taste and it was a bit of a baptism of fire. More slowly savouring now, and it's got a sweet vanilla note upfront which is a bit odd. Develops lots of big tart notes - vinegar acidity mixing with brown sugar and fortified wine. Really tart though, crisp with an underlying berry fruit character that makes it very appealing. Finishes puckering, though, which is a shame. Otherwise the feel is fluid - a bit of body but mostly just a pull from that acidity.

Nice dark lambic style beer. Impressively sour, but enough good flavour around the edges to keep it interesting and appealing. (945 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Incredible sourness laid upon a dark and mysterious base. Flavors come out in new and evoking ways with dark grains, fruit and palate-piercing acidity. Aptly named, Tart of Darkness is as ominous, dreary and shaddowy as it sounds.

Opening with a dark plumb color with tawny bronze low lights, the beer simmers in the glass with tepid carbonation to give the ale a slight coffee-like appearance. Its dark and ruddish appearance is slightly haze and gives the ale a rather rusty darkness. Sparse on lacing, the ale almost prefers wine-like appearances over that of ale.

Savory and tart, the aromas nearly cause sweating and mouth whetting with its utter sour fruit character. Black cherries, plumbs, blackberries, blackcurrants and red grapes give a highly tangy but robust scent. A musty aura of sea air, weathered oak and saddle leather add to the beer's boisterous scent. However, its the vinous wine-like character that joins into notes of soy sauce, coffee grounds, dark chocolate and balsamic for a highly complex nose.

To taste, the beer's fruit strikes first- plumb and black cherry leading the way. But the savory sourness rises next with balsamic, merlot, sour plumbs, tangy berries and grapes to give the beer a wildly wine-like and briny character. Its thin sweetness seems to give the dark fruit a sense of "ripeness" before its dry cider taste takes hold. Yet a toastier, chocolaty and coffee taste lurks deep in the backdrop and assists in the beer's bold complexity.

Medium-dry early, the beer's dark fruit and slim sweetness thwarts its light carbonation to go from creamy to toasty-dry in a hurry. Its jaw-piercing acidity provides plumb skin astringency to heighten its sourness in finish.

I see this as a Flanders Red turn Oud Bruin, turn Sour Porter in the most unique and seductive way possible. Its a procession into a direction that allows its darker side to assist in its sour dryness. Simply sublime at every turn. (1,943 characters)

Photo of pknyc
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 5/13/13, opened 2/1/14.

A: Aggressive pour. One finger of dark head that very quickly dissipates to zero head. No lacing. Very dark brown to place. Some ruby around the edge. Similar to coca-cola.

S: Tart & sour. Some lactic and citric acid. Very little roast as the tartness is upfront and center.

T: Tart & sour, just like the nose. Some juice. Does not taste like a stout, but more of a sour black ale.

M: Thinner than I had expected based on the label referring to the beer as a stout. More like a sour black ale.

O: It was not what I expected, but it was still very good. Just don't expect a stout. (622 characters)

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml classically Bruery-orange-capped bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney.

Pours a dark, but very fluid and light-bodied brown, with almost negligible carbonation. When tilted there are some fine streams, but otherwise it looks pretty dead in the glass. Head forms a pocked ring around the edge of large, sudsy bubbles. Looks okay, but no better.

Nose is surprisingly sweet, with dark fruits providing the bulk of the aroma. Mild plasticky funk comes through as well, leaving a little hint of the future, but otherwise, there's more in the way of berries and a slight chocolate hint. As it warms, surprisingly, the funk comes through a little more, with a definite gueuze-like vegetative character making its presence felt. It's actually pretty solid.

Taste is impressively sour. From the outset, when a metallic bite signals that there's something funky going on, this stays sharp, acidic and intense. Vinous, barrel, acetic, plenty of intense balsamic vinegar, Cantillon-level gueuze tartness, and a lingering finish that leaves crushed tomato plant and more plasticky aromatics. Impressive stuff.

Feel is tart and astringent, but with a fluidity that's quite pleasant.

Overall, yes, this is good stuff. Probably the best beer I've had from the Bruery. This is sharp, intense and unrepentant. The darkness doesn't come through all that much, but then the colour is just impressive. Yep. Well done. (1,460 characters)

Photo of psoriasaurus
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sour Stout? Yes please. I was sold before I even tasted it. Poured from bottle into snifter, appears light bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Roasted, chocolate aromas. First sip annihilates your tastebuds with a level of sour that would make a warhead's lips pucker. The chocolate/mocha flavors oddly pair nicely with the intense sour. Absolutely delicious. (369 characters)

Photo of Tucquan
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this on 2014-01-26 in Columbia, PA

A - Dark mahogany with a short tan head that fades quickly.

S - Very nicely sour with tart cherry, cranberry and fig. Light funky barrel aroma. Really nice.

T - Very sour, green apple skin, citric acid, tannin. Not getting figs in the taste. Medium roasted grain flavor is the primary (but in the background) malt support. Very dry. In a blind tasting, it would be hard to tell this is a "stout". Very much in the sour-tart citrus camp with some funky barrel overtones. For a sour, it is well-balanced. A little bit of dark fruit sweetness appears in the aftertaste.

M - Light-medium body and medium carbonation. Puckering, palate cleansing.

O - A very, very fine brew. I sampled it with my wife and she REALLY enjoyed this. (772 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle, 2013 edition. Purportedly (and hopefully) the unfrozen batch that recently made it to Alberta.

This beer pours a fairly solid black, with prominent cola highlights, and two hefty fingers of rather fizzy, frothy, and tightly bubbly beige head, which leaves little beyond a few specks of lonely island lace around the glass as it quickly flashes away. Quite a loud beer, I'd say.

It smells of an acrid, vinegar-like sourness, like well-oxidized red wine, essence of cherry, lightly roasted bready, faintly caramelized malt, bitter dark chocolate, fruity cola dilute, a hint of woody funk, and a soft musty earthiness. The taste is still quite side palate-tickling tart, but now with a more overt fruity bent, the cherry, raspberry, and even unripe strawberry really coming through, yet up against a somewhat less than sturdy wall of gritty bready malt, bittersweet cocoa, and woody, nondescript oak. Some mild funky, almost cheesy notes and soft earthy hops add further, distracting complexity. No evidence of the 7 points of booze.

The carbonation is adequately sassy, and duly supportive of all the funk, tart, and acidity, the body on the lee side of medium weight, due to the same culprits, and weirdly more smooth than I would have thought at the outset. It finishes still tart and fruity, the malt and funk hanging on, but visibly fading.

I'm a bit surprised at the malt's lesser role here, though it could be that it was all that it could do to stave off the funky, acetic acid onslaught. This one's still all about the sour - it just looks dark. Glad I got a chance to hit a bigger serving, after missing out on this at GABF last year. (1,667 characters)

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Raspberry red, not much head, but very nice color.

S - Red wine, grape, honey.

T - Delicious sour taste. Lots of raspberries. Not overly sweet, but instead pretty balanced.

M - Sticky, lots of terroir, slightly dry on finish.

O - Excellent sour. Easy drinker. (267 characters)

Photo of Etan
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml, 2013 batch, into a snifter.

A: Pours a glassy black with a small light tan head.

S: Nose brings musty vinegar, light cocoa, roasted grain, tart cherry, mild oak.

T: Taste brings tart lactic and acetic notes, burnt grain, slightly buttery, raspberry skin, dark chocolate.

M: Medium-bodied with light carbonation. Very drying.

O: This is a lot drier and more sour than I expected. It's good, but a little more stout maltiness and barrel presence would make the beer more interesting. (493 characters)

Photo of cvm4
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 Vintage

A - Dark cola colored body with a one finger tan head. Very stout like look.

S - Tart berry acidity, dark fruits, faint oak and a little roastiness to it.

T - Sweet berries and sour cherries in the beginning. To me, the cherry sour is really from the start to finish. Secondary flavors of roasted malts and faint chocolate notes.

M - Light bodied, medium carbonation. Really crisp and smooth body.

O - An interesting mix with the dark characteristics and the sour coming together. (498 characters)

Photo of blindtiger24
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22oz bomber poured into a tulip glass.

A: Thin head that is more fizzy carbonation than head. Deep plum coloring.

S: Prunes and cherry cola with hints of strawberry, alcohol, and charred tobacco.

T: Strong sweet and bitter flavors of dried fruit highlighted by prunes and apricots. Cherry cola slides around the tongue underneath the bitter flavors and shows its sweetness towards the end. Tart cherries really accelerate the acidity mid way through and blend into the malt.

M: Awesome mouth experience. Mix of sweetness and sour pucker right off the bat, relief provided by the carbonation and malt, then a return from the sour and sweetness. Bitterness backs off just enough and then swings back for the finale for a fun finish.

O: Alone in its class, in my opinion. La Folie and Crooked Stave are great wild / sour beers, but this is pretty darn close to a masterpiece. (880 characters)

Photo of mverity
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

NYE bottle share at Proof. Deepest of opaque browns with a thin white-tan head and thin tan collar. Aroma is like a port, dark fruit, deep red wine, some woodiness. Taste is extremely tart. Vinegary almost. I'm getting some of the wine like characteristics, with some roasted malt too. Very interesting flavor. Medium carbonation and medium-thick body. (352 characters)

Photo of Jree261
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance-Dark brown to black with a tan foam out of the bottle.

Smell-Sour candy and tobacco.

Taste-follows the nose with the sour candy flavor predominating and the subtle tobacco and chocolate in the background.

Mouthfeel-Good weight and balance with a good length on the finish.

Overall-Not bad, the mouthfeel is the best part with the subtle tobacco coming in second. I definitely did not expect that. (411 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
4.16/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle into snifter. Bottle is about a year old.

A: Pours near black with a short lived light tan head that faded into a thin collar that left wispy lace down the glass.
S: I get scents of toasted grain notes with a hint of chocolate and tart berry acidity.
T: Red berry tartness is potent and dominating. Flavors of citrus rind, peach, and raspberry come through with just a hint of chocolate in the finish. Buttery aftertaste.
M: Ultra tart and dry. Greasy mouthfeel before it dries out in the finish. Fullish body, fluffy sharp carbonation that foams up in my mouth.
O: Super tart but very excellent flavor. One if the better sour Bruery beers to date. (662 characters)

Photo of cjgiant
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Edited based on re-review 2/2015:
I am not sure the concept of "sour stout" makes any sense, as I cannot imagine expecting almost two distinctly different things from a stout and a sour. It seems it would have to fail on one expectation to meet the other.

Given that, I must say I consider this beer solely as a sour, and the fact remains that my "sour" experience remains in its infancy, but will rate as best I can.
Edit: I have grown in my sour experience. I can see this beer now as an offshoot of an Oude Bruin. I think this isn't out of line with my initial concept.

The appearance leans towards stout, but light can be seen through the glass, and it is missing any creamy head. On re-review there is very thin head at edge. Pour is fairly viscous, and I think I did the wrong thing by shining a light from behind originally-it appears dark brown to dark.

The smell is distinctly sour (lemon, tart cherry), but also some dark spice (maybe rhubarb). Although hard to tell, I feel some of the undertones are from the barrel aging.

The taste also leans strongly towards sour, puckering the tongue. However, the tartness is a little more like a plain yogurt than pure sour lemons, as a comparison. Edit: thinking I realized this was more of a "sour milk" sour than another sour base. There is a very understated (sour) dark fruit taste, as well a an understated wooden dryness as well.

Overall, it took a few sips (as it has in my limited "sour" experience) to really get into enjoying the beer. The first few sips got my interest, but it took close to a third of the glass to get into noticing the nuances of the beer.

Re-review: somewhat surprised at how generally accurate my original review was. I think this beer could be pale and taste just as good, so in a certain way, I'm not sure where using roasted malts is a big part of the beer. Overall rating increased, regardless. (1,898 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

finally! I have been after this one for a long time, what a rare treat, a sour stout, not too many of these on the market. its got a velvety textured almost black pour, without a ton of visible carbonation, but just under an inch of fairly robust tannish head. the nose is sour, I mean real sour, as sour as anything ive smelled, save maybe their motherfunker. the sour trumps the blackness of the stout, and the chocolate malt, roasted barley, and barrel are all sort of muted behind the acidity and lactic funk of the nose here. the taste is a little more in balance, and it starts off dark and roasty as expected. I get subtle sweetness, spice, and more complex grain, but before I have time to contemplate any of that, it transforms instantly into a sour bomb, not overly acidic like some bruery sours, but softly feeling brutally sour, if you can imagine such a sensation. the huge body of this beer and its really dark malty earthiness keep the sour in check just long enough to form a really intriguing flavor profile. it is truly different, like nothing else ive had. the stout itself reminds me a lot of darkness, with some cherry and other fruit in the finish. the sour here plays on those fruit notes and carries it away. great idea, brilliantly executed. the bruery has a real knack for doing that, which is why I will always come up with the money to try their new stuff, especially the sours and wilds. this is a treasure. (1,436 characters)

Photo of HattedClassic
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a thin head that is off white and a bit purplish. The head dissipates quickly and does not leave much behind. The beer itself is a very interesting hue. The beer appears to be a black but very much resembles a very dark purple.

The beer smell is dominated by the tarty funk but some other notes do manage to make an appearance. The beer has notes of dark chocolate and roasted malts but get lost in the tart smell. The tart smell appears to be a raspberry tart. Underneath the tarty smell is a strawberry smell that contrasts well with the tart. However, the funk subsides a bit after it warms up a little and allowing the different smells to mix.

The beer's flavor is very similar to the beer's smell. the taste has a tart presence with notes of a dark roast and dark chocolate. However, the tart is more powerful and dominates the taste. The other notes come out in the aftertaste when the tart has subsided. Similar to the smell, the balance changes as the beer warms up.

The feeling is very smooth and almost slick. The carbonation is crisp , which adds a bit of bite to the tartness. Dry finish.

Overall, a pretty good beer and worth getting when it's available. As far as wild ale's go, this one is pretty good with an interesting mix of ingredients. (1,275 characters)

Photo of mtomlins
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle (2013 vintage) into a stemmed tulip glass and shared with a coupe friends.

A dark body with a tanned head that falls quickly leaving minimal lacing. The nose starts with a bit of chocolate and roasted malts but transitions quickly to tart sourness with lots of acidic citrus. The taste is mouth-puckering sour; a bit of coffee and a touch salty. The finish is dry, dry, dry and sour! I really enjoyed this beer, but I found it to be a bit one note. (476 characters)

Photo of mlhyatt
4.44/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tulip

Appearance- pours motor oil black with an off white head. The head is about half an inch head.

Smell- so sour. Delicious fruits such as grapefruit, orange, and some dark fruits like figs and plums. The smell is strangly addicting.

Taste- again so much sour. Upfront is a tart fruit like fermenting grapes and grapefruit. The aftertaste mellows out with a tart finih that lasts for minutes. Also strangley addicting.

Mouthfeel- makes your cheeks pucker so much. But it finishes so well. Smooth and tart in then end.

Overall- solid beer if you like sours. The tartness is well blended with the stout flavor and leaves a nice finish that doesn't destroy your mouth like other sours. (726 characters)

Photo of CloudStrife
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml poured into a snifter. 2012 vintage

A: Pours a dark brown appearing black in the glass with a slightly tanned head. Some splotches of red in the head after the yeast is poured. Leaves some spots of lacing on the glass but not too much.

S: Nice tart and sour aroma. Slight roasted malt. Dark fruits like plum and cherry are in the background. Oak is going on very nicely

T: Great tartness going on here, really complex sour blend from the bacteria and yeast. Fruit flavors compliment the sour. Oak smoothes thing out nicely and add slight note of bourbon.

M: Light to medium body with a real crisp carbonated feel. A bit sticky on the finish but not too bad.

Overall this is very enjoyable. Sour and tart aspects are on point. Havent had this one fresh so not entirely sure how the year made it taste but it works. (827 characters)

Photo of lordofstarside
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25oz bottle to a snifter, bottled 5/15/13

Pours nearly pitch black with dark red hues when held up to a bright LED. A half finger of white foam that receded into a frothy ring with no visible carbonation. Lacing doesn't seem too heavy, an alright looking beer

Smell is pretty complex. Tart cherries, apple, and dark fruits, vinegar, oak, chocolate, roasted coffee, caramel, bourbon, and alcohol. Very unique smelling beer, I know it's a sour stout but I never expected both those styles to be represented so distinctly. Sourness dominates for sure, but imperial stout notes aren't buried too far underneath.

Taste is with the nose- strong tart cherries and apple, as well as many other fruits followed by roast coffee and chocolate, oak, bourbon, vinegar, vanilla, with an incredible caramel and sweet fruity finish. Much like the nose, it's successfully fuses all sorts of sour and stout notes that somehow come together terrifically

Feel is strong sour upfront, bitter in the middle where the stout notes come in strongest, and sweet on the finish. Alcohol concealed well in the smell and taste, stupidly drinkable.

Overall I have no idea what the hell I'm drinking but it's incredibly complex and tasty. First sour stout experience definitely was a good one, going to have to pick up as many of these as possible while they're still on the shelves (1,357 characters)

Tart Of Darkness from The Bruery
92 out of 100 based on 330 ratings.